Combat!  The TV Show of my Youth

By | February 8, 2022

[February 8, 2022]  Growing up, us kids had minimal permission to watch television and were restricted to one 30-minute show per evening.  My brother and I chose the TV show Combat!, starring Vic Morrow and Rick Jason.1  This televised war drama series covered the grim lives of a squad of American soldiers fighting the Germans during World War II.  If I had to pick a show that put a mark on me, Combat! was the show.

I was inspired to be like these soldiers; tough, brave, competent, willing to do the dirty work.  My hero Buck Sergeant Chip Saunders (Vic Morrow) led his Infantry squad of men through the daily grind of battle, often encountering hardened enemy resistance and undergoing privations from the battlefield.

Along with men in my small town who fought in WWII and the Korean War, I learned a great deal from this show, but more than anything else, it motivated me to join the U.S. Army.

Second Lieutenant Gil Hanley (Rick Jason) was the show’s other co-star, but I always gravitated to Sergeant Saunders for a reason I could never explain.  When I was later promoted to “buck” sergeant in the U.S. Army Infantry, it was the happiest day of my life; a dream fulfilled.

Yet, something tugged at me to do more, to get the chance to lead more Soldiers.  I knew I could do it, even with my pitiful skills.  I had the drive.  Now, it was about getting the discipline and knowledge to make it happen.

After seven years as an enlisted soldier, I hung up my stripes to be a Second Lieutenant, but I never left those soldiers who were my brothers in arms.  I could be found eating meals with the Infantry Privates, talking to those unconquerable Sergeants to get the ground truth, and learning essential leadership skills that would never leave me.  I also learned a great appreciation for them all.  That is what made me humble; I could never know as much or be as strong as these men.

Like Sergeant Saunders, I would eventually lead men into combat.  I would not be a sergeant but an officer.  Like him, I would lead from the front, never failing my soldiers, never faltering, never losing my faith in them.  That is what the show Combat!  taught me.  And I am grateful for it.

You can see Season 1, Episode 1 “Forgotten Front” on YouTube (link here, 49:51 minutes).  I recommend sitting back in your favorite chair with a mug of your favorite brew and watching it.  You will not be disappointed.

—————

  1. The show’s name Combat was not depicted with an exclamation mark but with a stylized bayonet, as seen in the featured image from the homepage.

—————

Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

35 thoughts on “Combat!  The TV Show of my Youth

  1. Plato

    Brought back memories of my brother and I growing up in Philly. Thanks!!!!!!

    Reply
  2. Mr. Savage

    Gen. Satterfield, my brother and I also watched the show (when we were allowed to watch tv at all). Our mom closely monitored our indoor activities and restricted what we watch by time and content. That is, perhaps, why we are so successful in life. Great article and thanks for tickling my memories from the time I grew up.

    Reply
  3. Enter the Dusk

    Me too but I guess I’m much younger. I saw a few episodes on YouTube. I hate to give ScrewTube any visits but I support freedom whenever possible. 🇺🇸

    Reply
    1. Roger Yellowmule

      Same here. The shows were great … very realistic. Many lessons.

      Reply
      1. Harry Man

        That’s where I’ve been watching them ever since this article by Gen. Satterfield was published. I wanted to wait a few days after the article to give my opinion on the tv series Combat! Great job bringing this show back to my attention.

        Reply
  4. Greg Heyman

    Great show and one that I didn’t watch but just started. I ordered a copy from Amazon and will get the entire series. Got an 8% discount being a Prime Member and free shipping. Still, all 5 seasons cost me $113 plus tax. Worth it.
    https://www.amazon.com/Combat-Complete-Vic-Morrow/dp/B00EEEHL9G/
    And,while you are there, be sure to purchase Gen.Satterfield’s book “Our Longest Year in Iraq.”

    Reply
    1. Jonny McB.

      Expensive but you can still find most of the episodes on YouTube. Keep looking and when you find one, download it for watching later.

      Reply
      1. Adolf Menschner

        Got my copy and am not disappointed. If you want to find out more of our heroes and what they did in the Iraq War, then get a copy now. I found it a page-turner and am on my second read. After I finish it this time, my daughter wants to read it and take it to school for her friends. Isn’t that nice.

        Reply
  5. Elaine Myers

    Today’s article brought a smile to my face, remembering the shows I grew up watching.

    Reply
    1. Eric Coda

      Me too. I bought the series on line this morning after reading this article. I’m looking forward to seeing it from episode 1 to the end. If you’ve never seen any of them, you’re missing out. Go and search for the name and watch one on YouTube or some other video platform.

      Reply
  6. Newbie in Seattle

    You can learn from TV shows, some of them that were put together with some thought. But mostly, watching television is a waste of time. Gen. Satterfield has written about this often and it is true. Get out and spend time with other people.

    Reply
  7. Unwoke Dude

    I read this article with some nostalgia. Like so many of my generation, we grew up spending more time outdoors playing various games and not in the house watching tv or playing games. I think we are better off because we were interacting with other kids (and sometimes their parents). We learned how to act properly. If you didn’t someone might beat your butt for messing up.

    Reply
    1. Harry Donner

      Having the tar beat out of you is one way to stay unwoke. hahahahhaah

      Reply
      1. Dead Pool Guy

        Funny, but very true. I learned the hard way not to mess with the girls. She would have always a big brother who would whack me good if I did anything stupid like pull her hair or call her names. There was someone around ready to defend the girls. So, I was always polite. Paid off in the long run. Not today’s kids tho.

        Reply
      1. Oakie from OK

        This is why learning how to get along with others is so important. Those with large families had a huge advantage over those of us who were the only kid.

        Reply
  8. Army Captain

    If you have never led men (or women) into combat, then you cannot imagine what it is like. I don’t write this to dismiss historians who write from the comfort of their leather chairs but to note that there cannot be the same level of understand given. That is why I also recommend folks read this book by Gen. Satterfield, ‘Our Longest Year in Iraq’ published late last year.

    Reply
    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Good points Army capt. We call say that but not everyone can be in a war and still make it out intact. 😊 Just saying.

      Reply
  9. Jonnie the Bart

    Excellent article, thanks. BTW, you can find a number of websites that have the Combat tv series for free viewing or you can order them as a whole. I watched a few. Very good.

    Reply
  10. American Girl

    Best quote of the article, “After seven years as an enlisted soldier, I hung up my stripes to be a Second Lieutenant, but I never left those soldiers who were my brothers in arms.” I’m sure many did this and often times, it was the right choice. Obviously this worked out well for Gen. Satterfield.

    Reply
    1. Eye Cat

      Yes, coddling tyrants like the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany. What a spectacle we have.

      Reply
    2. Winston

      … and a show of great weakness and a failure to lead by Pres Joe Biden and his ilk.

      Reply
  11. Max Foster

    This is not the first time that Gen. Satterfield has written on the value of tv shows and movies, in particular, those about war. In the past (before the mid 1970s) producers and directors and actors had experience in WW2 and Korea. That gave them perspective. Today, that is not true because those same folks grew up in a politically marxist environment. They are taught that it is the soldier who is evil and that war is never the answer. For those that still have a foot in reality, we know that premise to be false.

    Reply
    1. Janna Faulkner

      Well said, Max. This is the problem with today’s young folks in particular. They also would rather be playing games in their parent’s basement than being out on the street with their good friends.

      Reply
  12. Dale Paul Fox

    I grew up about the same time, the 50s and 60s. Saw the same shows. They didn’t make me want war or make me stupid. Altho I shouldn’t have been allowed to watch so many shows. Mom should have kicked me out to play with my friends on the block more.

    Reply
    1. Valkerie

      Yeah, and a few more fist fights never hurt any body (well, not much any way). By fighting, you learn there are rules. Not taught today, nor allowed in any way.

      Reply
    2. Doug Smith

      That’s why butt kicking is not longer the ‘right’ thing to do. But people need their a$$es kicked to wake them up to reality. Today, kids can do what they want like change their gender but, but, but, they must wear masks. Our govt is nuts.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.